Summary: Solomon warns us not to "offer the sacrifice of fools who do not know they do wrong? How and why would fools worship wrong to begin with? And how do I avoid that trap in my own life?
OPEN: A Missouri couple decided to build a luxury home in Florida. But they accidentally constructed a $650,000 house on the lot next door to the one they owned… on property land belonging to someone else. The initial survey of the property was wrong.
In a similar story, a Rhode Island developer mistakenly built a $1.8 million house on public park land. Again, the survey was wrong. The Rhode Island Supreme Court ordered the house removed from public land.
The moral: When you build a home… you better make sure you build in the right place.
(Daily Heartlight for 11/12/2014 by Tim Archer)
Now here in Ecclesiastes 5, Solomon is offering a slightly different kind of moral to his readers:
He’s saying: If you’re going to worship God… better make sure you do it in the right way.
There is a right way, and a wrong way to worship God.
Solomon said: “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.
Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of FOOLS, who do not know that they do wrong.
Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:1-2
Solomon is saying there’s a right way and wrong way to worship God.
The right way is that of wise men.
And the wrong way is the way of fools.
As I was preparing for the sermon this week I thought it would be interesting to ask:
What is the WRONG way to worship God?
What is the way of fools?
From the first 2 verses of chapter 5, Solomon tells us that fools…
1. don’t even KNOW that they do wrong in worship
2. they are quick and hasty in what they say: They talk without thinking
3. and they SAY A LOT… but they MEAN LITTLE of what they say. They’re hypocrites.
Solomon very clearly says: “Guard your steps when you go the house of God.”
Now, I don’t want to worship like a fool, so I want to know what a fool’s worship looks like.
And what caught my attention in this text was that Solomon said fools don’t KNOW that they “do wrong” in worship.
Solomon says: “Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.” Ecclesiastes 5:1b
Now, what could a fool do in worship that would be “wrong”?
As I thought about that, my mind drifted back to three stories in the Old Testament.
First, I thought about Nadab and Abihu (the sons of the 1st High Priest – Aaron). They had many jobs in the Tabernacle, and one of those jobs was to offer incense to God at the altar of incense in the Tabernacle. Now, God’s word was very explicit on HOW they should offer that incense, but these boys couldn’t be bothered by the details. They didn’t think it mattered how they did - what they did – in the presence of God. They thought they could improve on the things of God.
BUT THEY WERE WRONG.
Leviticus 10:2 tells us “fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.”
Nadab and Abihu offered the sacrifice of fools.
They did what was wrong.
And they died.
Then there’s the story of King Uzziah.
King Uzziah started out as a fairly righteous King. But as time went on, and he became more powerful and successful, he decided he was important enough that he didn’t need the Levitical priests to do his worship for him. He decided he had the right to go into the Temple and offer incense at the incense Altar. He thought he could improve on the things God had commanded.
BUT HE WAS WRONG.
2 Kings 15:5 says “The LORD afflicted the king with leprosy until the day he died...”
Uzziah offered the sacrifice of fools.
He did what was wrong.
And he went to his grave stricken with leprosy.
Then there’s the story of King Manasseh.
King Manasseh didn’t even start out right. Almost from the beginning of his reign, he did all kinds of bad things.
One of the things he did was to “re-arrange” the furniture at the Temple.
He took the altar of sacrifice and replaced it with a pagan altar.
And, possibly worst of all, he offered up his son as burnt offering to one of those pagan gods.
Now, eventually, Manasseh repented of all the evil he had done, and God forgave him.
But 2 Kings 23:26 tells us: “The Lord’s “… fierce anger… burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to arouse his anger.”